Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Troll Everyone Loves

Actor James Woods is handled as if he were a rascally old uncle with nutty ideas in this Daily Beast story.
Scratch a liberal, find a fascist every time,” Woods tweeted in April. These days the Oscar-nominated actor uses his Twitter account to broadcast his right-wing views to his 190,000 followers—and he’s arguably become President Obama’s biggest, most famous troll on Twitter.
“He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, but his politics are, apparently, batshit crazy,” says Ben Dreyfuss, engagement editor at Mother Jones whose family—including movie star Richard—is friends with Woods.
His ranting and ravings are celebrated, of course, because he's a conservative. If he were one of the many liberal Hollywood commenters, he'd be given the Alec Baldwin treatment. And the man can't even get his political ideologies right--fascism comes from the right spectrum and not the left.

Here's what Woods and Baldwin have in common--they both spout an outdated version of what used to pass for discourse. Neither one of them should be celebrated for what they add to the discussion.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Problem of Piracy

If we round everything off neatly, and call it 90 million downloads, at a low ball figure of $7 a pop, we see that Hollywood lost, on just three different films, about $630 million dollars. That $630 would have produced all three of the films, budget wise, and probably a handful of others.

Hollywood can ignore a little cheating and a little downloading for a while, but when just three films are responsible for over a half a billion dollars in lost revenue, then an unreasonable reaction to piracy is well underway. These people are going to get their money and they're not impressed with the argument that, on the Internet, everything should be free.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

An Interesting Slice of History

James Fallows has released a treasure trove of great stuff about Chickenhawk America. This was a throwaway link from one of his pieces and I was fascinated by what it demonstrated about America during the Vietnam War:
Inside the Navy Yard, we were first confronted by a young sergeant from Long Beach, a former surfer boy no older than the rest of us and seemingly unaware that he had an unusual situation on his hands. He started reading out instructions for the intelligence tests when he was hooted down. He went out to collect his lieutenant, who clearly had been through a Cambridge day before. “We’ve got all the time in the world,” he said, and let the chanting go on for two or three minutes. “When we’re finished with you, you can go, and not a minute before.”
From that point on the disruption became more purposeful and individual, largely confined to those whose deferment strategies were based on antiauthoritarian psychiatric traits. Twice I saw students walk up to the young orderlies—whose hands were extended to receive the required cup of urine—and throw the vial in the orderlies’ faces. The orderlies looked up, initially more astonished than angry, and went back to towel themselves off. Most of the rest of us trod quietly through the paces, waiting for the moment of confrontation when the final examiner would give his verdict. I had stepped on the scales at the very beginning of the examination. Desperate at seeing the orderly write down 122 pounds, I hopped back on and made sure that he lowered it to 120. I walked in a trance through the rest of the examination, until the final meeting with the fatherly physician who ruled on marginal cases such as mine. I stood there in socks and underwear, arms wrapped around me in the chilly building. I knew as I looked at the doctor’s face that he understood exactly what I was doing.
“Have you ever contemplated suicide?” he asked after he finished looking over my chart. My eyes darted up to his. “Oh, suicide—yes, I’ve been feeling very unstable and unreliable recently.” He looked at me, staring until I returned my eyes to the ground. He wrote “unqualified” on my folder, turned on his heel, and left. I was overcome by a wave of relief, which for the first time revealed to me how great my terror had been, and by the beginning of the sense of shame which remains with me to this day.
Can you imagine such a thing happening today? People actually coordinating their protests, throwing urine in the faces of orderlies, and pretending to be suicidal in order to get out of going to war?

Mind boggling.

Thank You For Your Service Now Go Away

James Fallows has a lengthy article about the current American mentality towards Veterans and their service. Here, he finds someone who really nails it:
Seth Moulton told me about his experience as a marine during the Iraq War. Moulton enlisted after graduating from Harvard in 2001, believing (as he told me) that when many classmates were heading to Wall Street it was useful to set an example of public service. He opposed the decision to invade Iraq but ended up serving four tours there out of a sense of duty to his comrades. “America was very disconnected. We were proud to serve, but we knew it was a little group of people doing the country’s work.”
Moulton told me, as did many others with Iraq-era military experience, that if more members of Congress or the business and media elite had had children in uniform, the United States would probably not have gone to war in Iraq at all. Because he felt strongly enough about that failure of elite accountability, Moulton decided while in Iraq to get involved in politics after he left the military. “I actually remember the moment,” Moulton told me. “It was after a difficult day in Najaf in 2004. A young marine in my platoon said, ‘Sir, you should run for Congress someday. So this shit doesn’t happen again.’ ” In January, Moulton takes office as a freshman Democratic representative from Massachusetts’s Sixth District, north of Boston.
What Moulton described was desire for a kind of accountability. It is striking how rare accountability has been for our modern wars. Hillary Clinton paid a price for her vote to authorize the Iraq War, since that is what gave the barely known Barack Obama an opening to run against her in 2008. George W. Bush, who, like most ex-presidents, has grown more popular the longer he’s been out of office, would perhaps be playing a more visible role in public and political life if not for the overhang of Iraq. But those two are the exceptions. Most other public figures, from Dick Cheney and Colin Powell on down, have put Iraq behind them. In part this is because of the Obama administration’s decision from the start to “look forward, not back” about why things had gone so badly wrong with America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But such willed amnesia would have been harder if more Americans had felt affected by the wars’ outcome. For our generals, our politicians, and most of our citizenry, there is almost no accountability or personal consequence for military failure. This is a dangerous development—and one whose dangers multiply the longer it persists.

There has been absolutely zero accountability for the debacle of America's wars of choice against the tactic known as terrorism. The elites are never, ever going to submit their children to such a thing as war, not in my lifetime will that happen. So I cannot understand the fascination people have with Hillary Clinton. Her vote for the Iraq War sunk her in 2008 and it should still be sinking her now. War has been discredited as a foreign policy solution or choice. She represents a Democratic Party that is too hawkish and given to foreign misadventure. She's the establishment choice, and she have to play the role of the Iron Lady.

Are we supposed to hand the country over to another Clinton who didn't serve in the military and who will have a blind spot on foreign policy that will all but force her to use the military to solve problems so that she won't look feckless and weak? Is she going to use diplomacy or military solutions if she's surrounded by neocons or foolish Republican Senators?

The ideal candidate for 2016 is going to be someone who has served in the military and has been right about the Iraq War and almost everything else. That's not anybody named Clinton or Bush and that's not a person who actually exists in this country because, hello, we don't have that kind of a society anymore.

I can guarantee you one thing--I am going to be mighty disappointed for a long time. I don't expect anything good to happen in 2016, I really don't. The American people are not going to hand the country over to Hillary Clinton without giving the Republican Party a pass that it does not deserve. We are going to end up with hawkishness because that's what "wins the morning." The long term strategies practiced by this President, which, as an example have strangled Russia's economy, are going to be replaced by bluster and by troops on the ground in places where they should not be deployed. And that's going to happen no matter who wins.

Veterans are going to get the shaft coming and going, though. That's my point. Nobody wants them, nobody hires them, and everyone pays them lip service. Stop thanking them for their service and actually do something, like, you know, give them a job or vote for someone who isn't going to start another damned war.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How Can You Stop Capitalism?

I do not live in fancy digs, nor do I use Uber or Airbnb, but I cannot understand why there is a growing backlash against basic capitalism:
​A woman has been “profiteering” from her government-subsidized, rent-controlled Central Park duplex by renting out bedrooms through Airbnb, a Manhattan judge said, ordering her to stop immediately.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead issued a temporary injunction against Noelle Penraat, who, as The Post reported in October, was sued by her landlord.
In her ruling made public Tuesday, Edmead said records show Penraat made $61,000 off her rent-controlled Central Park duplex in just nine months. Penraat’s “own records indicate that she has been profiteering from a rent-controlled apartment partially subsidized by another government program,” Edmead wrote.
The apartment is hers, right? And all she is doing is a form of subletting, which used to be legal. And it's not even subletting. It's called renting out a room, which was done extensively during the Depression. The fear-mongering against the "traffic" in and out of the building is absurd and elitist.
The landlord ​claimed Penraat has had 135 rentals since February 2012, with guests logging three- to 21-night stays.

The landlord estimated that Penraat could make up to $118,300 a year if she rented the apartment on a nightly, year-round basis.
Penraat advertised her “Gorgeous master bed/bath on the park,” a “Lovely small bedroom in a huge apartment” and a “Sunny bedroom, Central Park view” for between $75 and $150 a night until the case was filed.

Honestly, where's the crime here?  If this was Colorado or Georgia, she'd be unable to charge that much and no one would want to stay in her apartment (emphasis on her apartment). She's using the marketplace to make money. She isn't forcing anyone to overpay her. She's charging what people want to pay. Someone has found a way to undercut the profit margins of the people who are really ripping people off. Imagine that.

Making money by giving people something they want to pay for is illegal now?

Patrick Smith Weeps a Little More

Good Lord, son. Get over yourself:
I cannot be the only one to note the remarkable sequence of events in the Obama White House last week. It tells us all we need to know—for now, anyway—about what Washington is up to as it puts Russia in an illegal police chokehold. This will end neither soon nor well.

On Wednesday the president announced his out-of-nowhere move to lift sanctions against Cuba and reestablish diplomatic ties. I cannot be the only one to do this, either: I wept. Half a century of suffering pointlessly inflicted on a humane and very brave people will now come to an end.
On Thursday Obama signed HR 5859, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, into law. One is always suspicious of bills with Boy Scouty names like this, and one is always justified: Obama just gave himself permission to inflict pointless suffering on the humane and very brave Russian people more or less arbitrarily and indefinitely. And in all our names, the Pentagon will now arm Ukraine with lethal weapons. Funny, the $350 million committed as an opener just about matches what Truman gave the Greek monarchists in 1947, so commencing the Cold War.
Let us end the Cold War 90 miles off our coast and far too late. Let us prosecute it full bore against Russia and along its borders, far too irrationally and nostalgically. I find one key to Washington’s reasoning, if this is the word, on Russia in this contradiction, because it is apparent, not real.
I do not doubt that there are brave and humane Russians; I just don't think they're working for Vladimir Putin at this time. The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has been carried out with help from the inside and with conventional land forces. Ukraine is ready to try to join NATO (I doubt that it will) and Russia is a murderous kleptocracy. Ask any dead journalist in Moscow why it is so.

The reason why no one is paying attention to Patrick Smith is because of things like this, by the way. I'd kill for three reviews on any of my books.

Another Non-Scandal

WASHINGTON — An 18-month congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s mistreatment of conservative political groups seeking tax exemptions failed to show coordination between agency officials and political operatives in the White House, according to a report released on Tuesday.
The I.R.S. has admitted that before the 2012 election it inappropriately delayed approval of tax exemption applications by groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, but the I.R.S. and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, have said that theerrors were not motivated by partisanship.
Republican lawmakers, dismissing the Obama administration’s denials, have suggested that the delays were not only politically motivated but also orchestrated by the White House.
It's a few days before Christmas so, you know. Time to dump the bad news and run for the hills.

Seriously, though. Despite the fact that Benghazi, Solyndra, Obama's birth certificate, and what happened at the IRS didn't pan out, I'm sure there's an abuse of power scandal out there that the Republicans can use to impeach him next year. Because, as we all know, both sides do it and everything is Obama's fault because of his socialist, Kenyan ursurping ways.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Another Thing Obama Won't Get Credit For

Oh, America is just wrecked, I tell you. Ruined and blasted and left for the scavengers.

The next time someone calls President Obama a soshalist or worst, just remind them that the economy boomed in 2014 like it was nobody's business. GDP went up, unemployment went down, and gas prices dropped like a stone. You get to a place like this with policies that don't create uncertainty, war or Democratic majorities.

This is the most screwed up I have ever seen the country. Things are going better than anyone could ever hope for and the President gets none of the credit. If a Republican was President, that's all we would hear about--the GDP, the unemployment rate, and the price of oil. That's all they would be talking about. But, because this is the Obama era, we're upset he hasn't ended racism and diseases no one has.


Amy Adams Is Not Going to Jump Through Your Hoops

NBC asked Amy Adams to get up early this morning and subject herself to a series of humiliating questions. Specifically, they wanted to keep pushing the story of Sony being hacked and ask her how she felt about being paid less money than her co-stars on a film.

They're not interested in her answer. What they want is to keep the story going so that they can find angles that will create click bait on their websites that other news outlets don't have yet. They wanted to create a moment of viral video where Adams has to answer to the fact that men are paid more than women for the same work.

In other words, they want to use her professional embarrassment to make themselves money.

How is that her problem if she doesn't want to jump through those hoops? Adams wants to promote a film that had nothing to do with Sony's e-mail hack and probably feels no professional obligation to help a failing business get up off the ground, which is what The Today Show is.

Amy Adams told NBC to go pound sand.
In the latest fallout from the Sony Pictures hack, the Today show pulled a segment with Amy Adams after the Big Eyes star wasn't comfortable answering questions on the controversial issue.

Adams was in New York to promote the Tim Burton-directed film, that included a stint hosting Saturday Night Live. She was slated to do an interview on Today not long after her SNL hosting gig but producers pulled the segment after the actress wasn't prepared to answer questions relating to the Sony hack.

Among the trove of stolen emails, it was revealed that Adams and Jennifer Lawrence made less than their male co-stars Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale for the film American Hustle.
NBC reminded everyone why they hate The Today Show and why Amy Adams is one of the few decent human beings in the entertainment business.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Good Luck Selling This Inside Baseball Crap

Honestly, the new editor of The New Republic isn't even trying to escape the magazine's horrible past:
In 1974, Martin Peretz, a 35-year-old social studies lecturer at Harvard College, bought The New Republic. He pledged to leave things as they were and to keep then-editor Gilbert Harrison “for a minimum of three years,” as Harrison told the Times. Sooner than that, however, Peretz installed himself as editor, resignations followed, and much of the staff was replaced by his former students. They would go on to dominate the masthead for the rest of the century.

A decade into Peretz’s tenure, Michael Straight, the owner-editor after World War II and son of the magazine’s first financial backer, wrote a letter to The New York Review of Books announcing “the spirit which Croly created and which Gilbert Harrison maintained in recent years was shattered.” Peretz, who stood accused of endorsing Israel’s 1985 bombing of Beirut, rightly ridiculed this appeal to constancy. “What spirit of The New Republic exactly would they be violating?” he replied to the letters page. “The magazine has had a long and complicated history.” Last year Peretz was the one complaining, writing in aWall Street Journal op-ed that the current owner, Chris Hughes, is “not from the world of Herbert Croly.” A survey of the many deaths and rebirths of The New Republic shows, if anything, that its most important survival skill has been to attract new champions from beyond its inner sanctum.
Note here that Snyder ignores the fact that Marty Peretz was all for the genocide of the Palestinian people and hated African-Americans to virtually the same extent; he was a race baiting crank given to fits of nostalgia for a time when you could actually say monstrous things in public and not be held accountable for them. He brought in Andrew Sullivan and helped mainstream things like The Bell Curve and the woefully inconsiderate contrarianism of Michael Kinsley. Real progressives haven't read TNR in decades, except with scorn and derision.

Peretz all but destroyed the magazine; Franklin Foer was well on his way to restoring it to some measure of respectability, albeit one centered around centrism and a more genteel version of taking the kneecaps out of real Democrats. The Chris Hughes/Gabe Snyder era will be the Buzzfeedification of the magazine along bro-centric lines. Do they have an ideology beyond clickbait?

Good luck making money with these inconvenient stories about how things were. People still aren't going to read it so why bring up the past? There's no getting past the Peretz years and no amount of denying the fact that the magazine was already destroyed is going to buy time for this debacle in the making.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Whose Ordered Plan?

The British say this is a work of madness:

An eccentric architectural plan thought to have been drawn by George III during his period of "madness" has been discovered at the British Library.

It is part of a huge collection of papers put together by the King during his reign from 1760 to 1820.

The loose piece of paper was tucked inside a volume about the Palaces of Hanover in Germany.

The diagram of a building was drawn in ink over a pencil outline "in a rather savage way", according to experts.

Peter Barber, head of map collections at the British Library, said the drawing, scribbled on the back of an order of service from St George's Chapel in Windsor, was "not an ordered plan".

It looks like someone was working out some ideas; if this is what madness looks like, oh well.

We have to remember that this was drawn with a crude implement, dipped in ink, and probably not in the best of light. It could have been a sketch to work out some ideas or it could have been the work of someone trying to amuse themselves. It could also have not been drawn by George III at all and it could have been done by a servant or someone at his direction.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cuba is For Lovers

Some day soon, people will be honeymooning in Cuba, soaking up the local flavor and spending their dollars on bargains. The Republican Party is still wedded to the idea that communism is some sort of threat to someone:
The historic plan announced by President Obama on Wednesday to normalize relations with Cuba was met with heavy bipartisan resistance on Capitol Hill, raising questions of whether Congress will even consider easing a more than 50-year trade embargo against the communist state -- let alone end it.
Obama said the United States will cease what he called an “outdated approach” with Cuba, and take steps to normalize diplomatic relations -- including opening an embassy in Havana -- after American Alan Gross was released from the country following five years in prison as part of an agreement that also included the release of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.

Obama also called on Congress to have an "honest and serious debate" about lifting the trade embargo, which has been in place since 1962.

Do you want to talk about markets? Cuba is a massive market for American goods. There are small businesses all over America lined up to sell things to the Cuban people. America should get in on the ground floor of this expansion of capitalist opportunity and sell the hell out of American goods to the Cuban people.

If the Republican Party cared about small business, it would be crafting legislation to do just that. Instead, they are owned by the people who were scratching out a meager existence hating the Castro brothers.

What are you gonna do with dead-enders? Mock them and ignore them. Cuban baseball players will trigger a resurgence in the game in America and Major League Baseball could add two quality teams on the Cuban mainland with no fuss at all. A minor league Cuban system would start producing hundreds of quality players who could play in America. If we went beyond that and started broadcasting games to Cuba and entered into limited cultural exchanges, well.

There's always money to be made when people are desperate for something. The Cuban people have a culture they'd like to share with people. We should embrace it and move beyond the rhetoric of the fools who knew this day was coming.

The American opening to Cuba was what George W. Bush should have sprung on the country in the fall of 2005. It would have gotten Katrina out of the news for a while and it would have created the impetus to get immigration reform done before Obama took over. As they say, you snooze, you lose.

There is No Bear

The bear is no longer applicable when considering the Russian state or the character of the people in it. The squirrel is far more appropriate.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the West on Thursday for causing his country's economic crisis, saying it would take two years to recover.
"Sometimes I think, maybe they'll (the West) let the bear eat berries and honey in the forest, maybe they will leave it in peace," Putin said at a news conference in Moscow, using a metaphor to refer to Russia's famed symbol. "They will not. Because they will always try to put him on a chain, and as soon as they succeed in doing so they tear out his fangs and his claws."
Putin's address comes amid plunging oil prices, sanctions from the West over his actions in eastern Ukraine and a ruble currency that has lost more than half of its value in recent months.
The squirrel is harmless and lives only where there are nuts. He's in the food chain, but he's not at the top or the bottom. He's the Belgium of the rodent world. The squirrel gets fat on the nuts and then goes into a form of hibernation when it gets cold. Their numbers ebb and flow with the availability of nuts, and, for the Russians, oil serves as their version of the nuts that fall from the trees. You only notice the squirrel when he rears up and lets loose with a stream of chirps; otherwise, he's a nice fellow and you don't mind having him in your yard. As soon as one goes rogue, the other squirrels will shun him and go back to getting fat.

The Russians are a tough people. Money has always been an illusion for them. They will endure the hardship--the shortage of nuts, if you will--and you'll see them next Spring. They are not predators, Ukraine notwithstanding. The Russian character is that of a gatherer of things found on the ground now and not someone who marches through the winter months, driving out invaders and then carrying home whatever can be dragged out of Central Europe on a donkey cart. In the old days, the Russians would be having the apartment blocks of Kiev dismantled and taken further East. Now, they tinker with the borders and shoot down planes that can't shoot back.

There is no Russian "bear" anymore. That bear died when the Russians realized that their junk and their declining birthrate were an inevitable fate. They should have thrown open the borders and absorbed anyone and everyone who wanted to make a life. They should have wedded capitalism to cheap energy costs and they should have set up a system of law that would have guaranteed basic rights for everyone who wanted to build a glorious country. They should have codified the idea that if you make something, you will never go hungry. If they had unleashed the power of millions of disaffected people and turned them into the factory of Europe based on regulated capitalism, their diversity would have overwhelmed their disadvantages and you'd be seeing a different kind of leader in Russia and a radically altered framework. To do that, they would have had to have tolerated the idea of a Middle Class, something Russia will never have under Putin.

Russia is a state on the fringes of Europe that has a wrecked economy that has been looted by kleptocrats and allowed to stagnate because this man Putin couldn't lead anything for very long. He should have been shot behind the ear when he violated the Russian constitution (whatever is left of it) and ran for the job he will now hold until he dies. If there is misery in Russia, then it is because no one had the courage to get rid of the old judo master once and for all. They are now wedded to his bungling and his outdated method of looking tough. 

Russia needs a wheeler-dealer who can make suckers out of the bankers in Germany, not a poet who thinks about honey and berries while imagining himself mounting another man's wife.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This is Why We Can Invade Iraq Again

All someone needs to do is figure out how to blame the hacking of Sony on the Iraqis.

That's it.

Once we do that, we have the case for war. We can invade. We can go break shit. We can own that country all over again.

The problem is, these hacks probably come from the Chinese, who are receiving some hard currency or some other form of graft from North Korea and we can't invade those countries. But, anyone threatening another 9/11 falls under the new American doctrine which allows for tearing up old agreements.

Seriously, though. Threatening another 9/11 isn't cool. Someone is going to overreact to this and we may well end up with a sequel to this movie. Killing Vladimir Putin would make a great film, but he'd probably just kick Franco's ass.

The American People Have no Memory

I'm of the opinion that, when the 2016 election rolls around, it will feature people we aren't currently considering for the job of President. So, this sort of thing is fun--Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush? Really?
Anyway, shit's getting real about 2016 here at the end of 2014. We've got David Brooks trying to shove Senator Professor Warren into the race. (Don't worry. She's too sharp to take advice from the likes of him.) And now, Jeb (!) is testing the waters again, and hoping that nobody will remember the names Terri Schiavo, Katherine Harris, or the fact that people were sitting in at his office. The brawl over the ever-shrinking Not Insane portion of the Republican party is now joined in earnest.
The American people have just been given eight solid years of about as much peace and prosperity as it was humanly possible to latch onto in this world. President Obama has an extremely low approval rate but he has avoided the incompetence of George W. Bush by a country mile simply by these three markers--the stock market is riding high, unemployment is dropping, and gas is less than $3 a gallon.

Not to mention the fact that we're getting out of wars and not getting into them with large land armies, but that's neither here nor there. With a single jobs or infrastructure spending bill, this country's economy would really take off, and we cannot have that, can we?

My belief is that, if Jeb Bush is on the ticket, Jeb Bush wins. He has always been the smartest Bush currently on the planet, smarter than his brother and his dad and able to win whatever he wants. He will probably get elected president simply by showing that he's inoffensive enough for everyone to accept as a leader.

Nobody is going to vote against him because of his name or anything that his brother did. That would require an informed electorate that wants real change and accountability for the obstructionism of the last eight years. We don't have that.

Meet Sandra McElroy

The Smoking Gun has been looking into the aftermath of the decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Someone over there figured out who Grand Jury Witness Number 40 was. Her name is Sandra McElroy and she happens to be well, you're not going to believe what this crazy bag of nuts did:
Sandra McElroy did not provide police with a contemporaneous account of the Brown-Wilson confrontation, which she claimed to have watched unfold in front of her as she stood on a nearby sidewalk smoking a cigarette.
Instead, McElroy (seen at left) waited four weeks after the shooting to contact cops. By the time she gave St. Louis police a statement on September 11, a general outline of Wilson’s version of the shooting had already appeared in the press. McElroy’s account of the confrontation dovetailed with Wilson’s reported recollection of the incident.
In the weeks after Brown’s shooting--but before she contacted police--McElroy used her Facebook account to comment on the case. On August 15, she “liked’ a Facebook comment reporting that Johnson had admitted that he and Brown stole cigars before the confrontation with Wilson. On August 17, a Facebook commenter wrote that Johnson and others should be arrested for inciting riots and giving false statements to police in connection with their claims that Brown had his hands up when shot by Wilson. “The report and autopsy are in so YES they were false,” McElroy wrote of the “hands-up” claims. This appears to be an odd comment from someone who claims to have been present during the shooting. In response to the posting of a news report about a rally in support of Wilson, McElroy wrote on August 17, “Prayers, support God Bless Officer Wilson.”
After meeting with St. Louis police, McElroy continued monitoring the case and posting online. Commenting on a September 12 Riverfront Times story reporting that Ferguson city officials had yet to meet with Brown’s family, McElroy wrote, “But haven’t you heard the news, There great great great grandpa may or may not have been owned by one of our great great great grandpas 200 yrs ago. (Sarcasm).” On September 13, McElroy went on a pro-Wilson Facebook page and posted a graphic that included a photo of Brown lying dead in the street. A type overlay read, “Michael Brown already received justice. So please, stop asking for it.” The following week McElroy responded to a Facebook post about the criminal record of Wilson’s late mother. “As a teenager Mike Brown strong armed a store used drugs hit a police officer and received Justis,” she stated.
Here's the thing, though. Sandra McElroy wasn't there. She didn't witness anything.
“Witness 40”--a 45-year-old St. Louis resident named Sandra McElroy--was nowhere near Canfield Drive on the Saturday afternoon Brown was shot to death.
She just made it up.

It turns out that McElroy is the crazy person who shocked everyone with her testimony. She's also the person who started a bogus fundraiser and has what could generously be called absolutely zero credibility. Read the whole thing--it will cause you to question absolutely everything and then nothing about our system of justice because, quite frankly, if the people who wanted Darren Wilson to get away with murder hadn't been blessed with Sandra McElroy, they simply would have gone out and manufactured their own version of her, no question about it.

McElroy is why the Justice Department needs to send fifty lawyers and some seriously skilled detectives to Ferguson, Missouri, pronto.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Of Course She's the Problem

Senator Elizabeth Warren is keeping a lot of Senators from feeling good about being bought and paid for. Senator Lindsey Graham mansplains for us:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), responding to Sen. Elizabeth's Warren (D-Mass.) criticism of the $1.1 trillion government spending bill's provision that allows banks to take more risk with taxpayer money, on Friday evening went after Warren and other Democrats who sided against the bill.
"If you follow the lead of the senator of Massachusetts and bring this bill down … people are not going to believe you are mature enough to run the place,” Graham said on the Senate floor. “Don’t follow her lead. She’s the problem."
Graham said Democrats not supporting legislation that would fund the government through September 2015 were asking for another government shutdown. "Welcome to democracy," Graham said, arguing that lawmakers shouldn't expect to get everything they want.

"I'm sure on MSNBC you're going to be well thought of, and on the liberal version of talk radio you'll have your moment with that crowd," Graham said, chiding Warren and other Democrats who deplored what has been called a Wall Street giveaway.
On MSNBC, no one is going to see you so, you know. There's that. What liberal version of talk radio? And why does Graham sound like he's about to make a medical diagnosis and talk at length about how important it is to give every woman a transvaginal ultrasound because shut up, that's why?

Graham has mastered the art of mansplaining the need to institutionalize graft and corruption. But what really strikes me about Graham's self-serving nonsense is that he is dangerously close to admitting that he's been bought and paid for and he is upset that Warren knows it and isn't afraid to talk about it.

It's dangerous to point out just how bought and paid for Graham really is because we're not supposed to be informed. We're not supposed to know that, in the words of Warren, the game is rigged.

The Nightly News No Longer Matters

Are you relieved that Brian Williams isn't going anywhere? Or did you, like me, yawn and look for other news:
Brian Williams is staying put as NBC Nightly News anchor, the network announced Monday. Saying that he's "renewed his commitment" to the network's news division, NBC News presidentDeborah Turness said in a staff memo that he will continue to serve as anchor and managing editor of the nightly broadcast "for years to come."
The news comes as Williams recently celebrated his 10th anniversary as NBC Nightly News anchor and ABC News recently replaced longtime World News anchor Diane Sawyer with David Muir.
People no longer wish to be informed. They wish to be entertained. I hope Williams can continue to dance around the fact that the job he holds isn't worth what it used to be. In the 1980s, this kind of an announcement would be huge because the nightly news mattered back then, The revenue generated by those programs floated these huge, bloated news divisions. Now, the only thing keeping them alive are the morning shows.

The evening news is merely a hole for the schedulers to work around.

The CIA Could Use Some Positive Press Right Now

The CIA needs more stories like this out there so that people will stop talking about torture:
Homeland The TV drama accurately presents the mission, intensity, pace, contradictions and complexity of a CIA station engaged in deadly battle, say two agency veterans.

As the Season 4 finale of Homeland ironically coincides with the United States draw-down of combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of the month, we wanted to use this opportunity to provide some insight and context to our long history with a complicated region. While the two of us can hardly claim impartiality here, we do bring to this commentary more than 60 years of operational experience at CIA. Collectively, we have served as chief of station in seven countries and have had extensive involvement in the problems that Homeland presents to us this season. Chuck Cogan also headed the Middle-Eastern and South Asian operational division and John MacGaffin was head of the Central Eurasian operational division as well as associate deputy director for operations at CIA. Finally, John has been a consultant to Homeland throughout this season.
My reaction is, stop. We don't care because your love fest has been overtaken by events.

I realize that this is supposed to be about entertainment, but here the story seems to conflate a television show about the CIA with the work of the CIA in the real world and I just want to know when we'll get a "rectal feeding" episode out of the way because, um, that's all anybody is really thinking about right now.

The thing about evil is, when something awful looks sleek and smart and like something you might buy because you've been convinced by an article of the possibility that it couldn't be all bad, that's when you're face to face with it. That's when it takes a shot to the bridge of your nose and leaves you wondering why you weren't paying attention to the manipulation in the first place.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Appalling Clickbait at The New Republic

In case you were wondering what would happen to the New Republic once it converted itself into a vertically integrated digital media company and got rid of everyone who could write, look no further than this assortment of empty-headed click bait stories.

Yeah, that's vertically integrated, all right. Whee!

It'd be funny if it wasn't so appropriate.

Friday, December 12, 2014

There is No Love For the Film Unbroken in Japan

This does not surprise me:
Angelina Jolie's new movie "Unbroken" has not been released in Japan yet, but it has already struck a nerve in a country still fighting over its wartime past.
And the buzz on social networks and in online chatter is decidedly negative over the film that depicts a U.S. Olympic runner who endures torture at a Japanese World War II prisoner-of-war camp.
Some people are calling for a boycott of the movie, although there is no release date in Japan yet. It hits theaters in the U.S. on Dec. 25.
Others want that ban extended to Jolie, the director - unusual in a nation enamored with Hollywood, especially Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt, who both have reputations as Japan-lovers.
The movie follows the real-life story of Louis Zamperini as told in a 2010 book by Laura Hillenbrand. The book has not been translated into Japanese, but online trailers have provoked outrage. Zamperini, played by Jack O'Connell, survived in a raft for 47 days with two other crewmen after a plane crash, only to be caught by the Japanese and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
We're at a place now where Americans can't look down the end of their nose at the Japanese anymore. Their crimes ended when World War II ended. Ours have occurred during the War on Terror. So, I'm not sure why the Japanese persist in trying to ignore or downplay depictions of their history. They cannot be lectured by American anymore and quite a bit of time has passed. There's no need to condemn Angelina Jolie for anything unless, of course, she gets the history wrong or does something unfair.

When you see Louis Zamperini being abused in the film, try to comprehend that this was how the Japanese treated their captives. This was how it was done on a scale that extended to the Chinese and the Koreans and everyone else who came into contact with Japan's war machine. This went on and there was an attempt after the war to hold Japan accountable. 

What keeps this in the news are a minority of Japanese leaders or thinkers who refuse to accept what was done. The evidence is overwhelming and yet they deny the history right in front of their eyes. They deny the fact that the Japanese often beheaded their captives. You wouldn't even know Zamperini's story if he had been treated like many other Americans captured during the war.

In any event, how does this translate into a ban on Angelina Jolie? Shouldn't there be a ban on anyone who denies the truth of history?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We're On Our Way Back to the Bush Years

The Congress is For Sale

Oh, man.

Anything goes now. Anything. Corruption? Looting the treasury? Allowing people to buy and sell the United States Congress? Destroying the environment? Letting the bankers run wild?

the 1,600 page bill also includes a number of provisions intended to gain votes from both parties, including:
  • increasing the amount an individual person can contribute to a national political party from $32,400 to $324,000
  • blocks the District of Columbia from using its own funds to set up regulatory systems for marijuana legalisation
  • measures that would significantly weaken new regulations about risky financial instruments called swaps
  • blocking certain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations
  • cuts in the budgets of the EPA and the US tax agency
  • increases in the budget for Wall Street regulation agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Good God. After poisoning the drinking water of West Virginia, the United States Congress has the temerity to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. After disenfranchising millions of Americans, the political parties (the one that did it, the one that didn't raise enough hell about it) can line their pockets with donations ten times greater than those previously allowed.

That's your new gilded age right there. Got money? No? Away with you then.

We're on our way back to at least two more years of this crap. It's like Bush never left office. I understand why President Obama couldn't allow the government to shut down but, damn.

The Casual Racism of the Hollywood Elite

You shouldn't be at all shocked by anything anyone working in an elite capacity in Hollywood has to say. You are right to be appalled, but if you're shocked I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you.

How is that Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin are still gainfully employed? If we can hound people out of their jobs over racism, Pascal and Rudin are certainly as guilty of the kind of racism found seemingly everywhere now. If Donald Sterling can have his NBA franchise stripped out from under him for trying to get laid, then Pascal and Rubin can be driven from the picture show business as well.

They may be part of the Hollywood elite but they're as out of touch and as unprofessional as any cabal of Republican Party county chairpersons found anywhere in the red state areas of America. Their casual language and their jokes should never have been exposed, you see. It's the hackers who are to blame. It's you and me for reading their private conversations. It's everyone but them, of course. The fact that they're racist egomaniacs who control the choices made about films and their distribution is irrelevant. It's not like they would screw Americans in order to get tax breaks to make movies, right? Whoops.

These are the people making the movies people go see. They're utterly appalling in the way the talk to one another and conduct themselves. They use the kind of language that should be reserved for satires about overbearing crazy people.

Oh well. This is how people talk. Casual racism is as much a part of Hollywood as anywhere else. The well heeled engage in it and then look down their noses at anyone who wonders why their shabby movies are so formulaic and politically correct. Pascal and Rudin will sell you the enlightenment of 12 Years a Slave but they're still sneering at the flesh and blood people who live in the world of today for being black.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Historical Lunacy of Silence Patton

The thing that made me laugh was seeing Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died on April 12, 1945, on his feet (must have been wearing his braces, right?) in this composite scene, standing over the death bed of General George S. Patton, who died on December 21, 1945.

I mean, honestly. If you can't remember to put Truman in Roosevelt's place in your ridiculous little conspiracy movie, you should give it a rest.

Nearly every conspiracy theory will unravel because of this kind of half-assed mistake if you look for it. Patton is remembered specifically because of George C. Scott's portrayal of him in a movie timed perfectly to help Americans forget about the debacle in Vietnam. Patton was not watched closely by the Germans and his insistence on movement was in keeping with a military tradition that escaped his contemporaries. He was a military descendant of William Sherman (slip around the enemy and raise hell all around him) while everyone else followed the U.S. Grant philosophy of grinding down the enemy with frontal assaults (and being stopped, more often than not, because of a lack of imagination).

The man himself descended into buffoonery when the war ended, most likely because of his health and numerous head injuries. No one was afraid of him--they were tired of his bullshit.

The Movie Business Never Changes

I have read a few of the documents leaked by hackers from Sony, the erstwhile movie studio that can't seem to make movies anyone wants to see, and I think we need to remember something about how certain industries function.

In the education world, people are enormously petty and difficult over semantics and small things. An entire department can be blown sky high over an insult or a coffee maker message, pleading for better cooperation. It is a largely unreal world that doesn't have anything to do with the lives of most Americans.

In the military, you have to dance with them what brung you. Each and every unit is vastly different from the next and so you are largely dependent on whoever is running your unit and who you are serving with. Don't like it? Your unit will be completely different in two years thanks to attrition, changes of command, and mission. It is a largely unreal world that doesn't have anything to do with normal American society but it gathers all of the problems and amplifies them with alcohol.

In the IT world, you have to deal with smart people who don't know much. It is a largely unreal world where women have to operate as if being female is a curse and not just who they are.

In the film business, you can say anything you want to another human being and not be held accountable. The only thing that matters is if you can survive being fired because you didn't complete a profitable project. You can talk to people in ways that would get you fired in the real world. If someone exited the movie business and acted the way they do around movie people in any other industry in America, they would be beaten and fired, probably within five minutes. It is a largely unreal world in the film business and you have to have an ego to rival that of a sociopath.

For all of these areas, change is nonexistent. People come and go but the way things are never changes. No one wants it to change. Everyone knows there's a decent, ethical way to deal with other human beings that will lead to great accomplishments and happiness for many.

Fuck that shit. The misery of others is a fetish and a drug, and people consume it like air and water while living.

I don't know much else beyond that. Everything else is bullshit.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kudos to John McCain

[Click for Video]

Finally, Senator John McCain says something that I can agree with. Perhaps he's not crazy; perhaps he just needs better advisors.

This is What is Shocking About the CIA Report

So, here's the thing about the release of the CIA report that concerns torture to acquire intelligence.

Vice President Dick Cheney really, truly did lie.

And we're shocked by that?

There are some things that should be accepted as fact and they are not. The big one is, the Vice President of the United States of America acted in the capacity of a war criminal and should be delivered with his medications and some family pictures and a few nice books to read to his new jailers in The Hague. They can figure out what to do with him and with his accomplices.

The crimes you're reading about were carried out by callow men who weren't defending America. They were playing politics with American foreign policy and our intelligence gathering apparatus. They were politicizing the defense of America from an enemy created solely by the need to have a new enemy. Our decade plus freakout over the tactic of terrorism has led us to a place where we can't even agree on whether or not Dick Cheney was a liar.

He most emphatically was.

The shocking thing is that nobody is on trial or in jail for what was done. We know they tortured people. We just lack the ethics of a people that would condemn such things. We are led by unethical people. We know that if the Obama Administration did try to hold the previous administration accountable that this president would be impeached and that the mechanism of government, which has already had sand thrown in the gears in order to obstruct everything possible would lurch to a government shutting down standstill.

So, the way forward is clear. Dick Cheney lied. We tortured people. Now we have to have the accountability moment, and we're avoiding that because of bald-faced wingnuttery?


This country is well and truly fucked.

They're talking about pardons before anyone has even been held accountable, that's how fucked we are.

Don't Give in to the North Korean Regime

The year's most ridiculous foreign policy blunder comes to us from the hackers of North Korea. They have been ordered to stop a film that ridicules the regime that proves just how bad nepotism can get.

There's no reason to believe that this is a well-orchestrated hoax undertaken by Sony itself to drum up interest in a lame buddy film, is there? There's no indication that this is some sort of marketing stunt? A bit of that guerrilla marketing that was used to sell films of questionable quality a long time ago?

No, probably not. Dumping Sylvester Stallone's social security number all of the Internet wouldn't be a wise move for a major film studio unless, of course, it's a fake number and Stallone was in on it.

That's the problem with these things. You know James Franco lives a life of bullshit by association. Believing that anything he's involved in is real is a mistake you should never make.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The St. Louis Post Dispatch Just Learned There Are Horrible People in the World

That's right--they're turning off the comments.


Well, I randomly chose a story on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's website about gun violence, and this was what I found:

Horrible people comment on websites. This is not news. This is a feature, not a bug because these horrible comments from racist cranks drive up traffic. Turning the comments off will cause the paper to take a hit on web traffic, in my opinion.

Speak a Dying Language At Home, Please

There is a bit of nationalism behind this--Germany has long had a difficult time integrating immigrants into society. There's also a bit of absurdity--Germany is a nation of expatriates and immigrants, enjoying the best economy in Europe and plentiful jobs for skilled workers. Speaking German at home reveals the inherent self-confidence crisis in the German character. The language is dying off with the elderly.

In two and a half years of living in Germany, I can tell you that there's almost no need to speak more than "retail" German. You need to be able to command a vocabulary of about a hundred words, if that. Phrases help, and so does courtesy. But there's no need to speak it and live there because everyone already understands a bastardized version of English. You can survive quite nicely there on a limited amount of German and on a reasonable amount of courtesy.

The death of the German language is on the way, however. Europe will figure out how to communicate in some hybrid language. However it sounds, it will be gutteral and abrupt enough to get you to your next destination.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mark Wahlberg Deserves a Pardon

Do you think this will happen?
On April 8, 1988, when he was 16 and long before he became a model, rapper and actor, Mark Wahlberg -- high on drugs and alcohol -- assaulted a man while trying to steal two cases of alcohol and then punched another man in the face as he attempted to avoid the police.
He was arrested, sentenced and tried as an adult, and he served 45 days in prison.
Today, at 43, Wahlberg is a much different person -- a father of four, a successful movie star, a philanthropist who works with at-risk youth -- but says he's still legally affected by his convictions. In a petition submitted Monday (PDF), he's asking for a pardon.
To me, the idea of remorse is the most important aspect of asking for a pardon. Wahlberg has taken responsibility for his actions and he has expressed remorse. In light of all that, he should be granted a pardon. And this really has nothing to do with who he is or how wealthy he is (although I would imagine a lawyer helped him with the request in exchange for a hefty fee).

The pardon process is woefully mistaken for a partisan political tool. It should be a tool for granting people the possibility of returning to public life. It should work for the poor as well as the wealthy, no matter what.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

She's Gone

The thing you have to remember about Mary Landrieu is that she is trying to represent a state that rejected Obamacare and will never benefit from Obamacare so long as Republicans control the state:
The senator also said she didn't regret her vote for Obamacare, which the GOP used to attack her and every other vulnerable Democratic senator this cycle.
No one ever accused Mary Landrieu of being too courageous in politics. I mean, literally--no one would confuse her with a principled Democratic leader. She server her own needs and no one else's.

Once the good people of Louisiana stop voting against their economic self-interests, there will be Democrats who will step up and get elected. The problem right now is perception and Landrieu never really had good perception of how crazy the people in her state really are and how far they would go to destroy themselves by constantly electing Republicans.

That's exactly what happened in Kansas so, you know. That's what the people who live there want. It's not possible for the rest of America to understand how places like Louisiana and Kansas work because applying common sense won't work. They want fear, they want uncertainty, they want misery, and they want to inflict as much of that as possible upon themselves because it drives them crazy to see anyone black get anything ever. They would rather go without basic services than see someone else get a benefit from the government.

If it's more complicated than that, sure. I'll believe it when I see it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Better Democrats, Please

Me, being shrill:
Don't make me laugh. Mary Landrieu abandoned the Democratic party, not the other way around. Why would any political party spend money on a candidate who can't win? As soon as the GOP sees a loser in a race, they cut their spending and abandon them to the fate--see the factory-shuttering clown in Minnesota who lost to Al Franken.
And I saw how you tried to flip the Republican War on Women (restrictions on abortions, transvaginal ultrasound legislation, denying women equal pay) to a "democratic" war on women. I don't appreciate your ruse, sir.
There really is a war on women, and the Republicans are so sensitive to their decision to declare war on women that there is a subset of their kind who will go out on social media sites and attempt to flip it to a Democratic War on Women. The outrage!

Obamacare is a classic example of legislation that benefits women. How can you reasonably conclude there's a war on women, carried out by the Democrats, when they've delivered affordable health care for women?

Good riddance to Mary Landrieu. We need better Democrats, period. End of story.

The Obama Record on Jobs

I have no doubt that we will see recession in the next few years, probably in time to sink the Democratic Party in the 2016 election cycle, but this is amazing stuff.

The Obama record on jobs is hard to comprehend. Absolutely nothing is being done to stimulate job growth through policy or spending from this Congress. We could have 4% unemployment right now, easily, with infrastructure spending and a comprehensive jobs program. This Congress could create small business-friendly legislation that would trade tax credits for job creation and we could put more people back to work.

There are structural issues to the American economy, of course. The deficit keeps shrinking, thanks to a Congress that is trying to starve the innovation out of the government. We can't keep spending on defense the way we have been over the last decade no matter how many wars John McCain thinks he'll be able to start by appearing on television. The Obama record on winding down America's wars of choice should come with some measure of job loss domestically. The opposite is happening--as we draw down overseas, we're still creating jobs without the benefit of a reasonable Congress acting to stimulate and reward positive job creation.

If we really want to talk about who's "winning the morning" or winning the week, the Obama record on jobs is what's winning right now. And, by extension, so is everyone who is going back to work or moving up the ladder to a better job.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Another Stolen Valor Douchebag

Sean Yetman

Here's an example of stolen valor:

A Philadelphia man apparently likes dressing up in uniforms.
Last week, he was wearing Army fatigues at the Oxford Valley Mall in Middletown when he was confronted by an Army veteran who suspected that the man never served in the military. The veteran of Afghanistan who lives in Northampton posted the video of the confrontation on YouTube and it has since generated more than 2.8 million views and incensed military families nationwide.
Back in 2003, his uniform of choice was a police coat.
The now 30-year-old Sean Yetman was arrested while wearing the coat of a Philadelphia officer who died in the line of duty. He pleaded guilty in Bucks County Court in May of that year to impersonating a public servant, a second-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to three months of probation for that crime along with a summary offense of driving with a suspended or revoked license, according to online court records.

Anyone who wears their uniform to the mall is automatically suspect, so I can understand why Mr. Berk (who films the video at the link) questioned Yetman. When I was in the Army, they flat-out told us not to wear the "work" uniform in public places, especially when shopping, and this was in San Antonio, Texas before 9/11.

Yetman stumbles through the questions, trying to pass himself off as "somebody." This is a sad young man who's never done anything and has nothing happening in his life. He has dressed up in a military uniform in order to gain some sort of self respect. He welcomes engagement in a lonely, pathetic manner, hoping he can pass himself off as a Veteran with combat awards on his chest.

There really is no way to separate the stealing of valor from free speech, however. Yetman has the free speech right to wear a uniform so long as he is not breaking the law, which, in this case, would be to show up somewhere and actually try to perform as a member of the military. He is not trying to enter a military facility. He's shopping and he wants to chat with people. There's quite a bit more to it than that, however.
Civilian and military authorities are looking into whether Yetman sought or received military discounts while at the mall on Black Friday or if he violated a state law that forbids the unauthorized wearing of military decorations.
Falsely claiming to be a member of the military is not illegal, but under the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, it’s against federal law for an individual to fraudulently portray him or herself as a recipient of any of several specified military decorations or medals with the intent to obtain money, property or other “tangible” benefit.
Surplus military uniforms, fatigues and other items, including badges, are available for sale in Army Navy stores, and online. But Nurnberg said that if a military service member wants to give away a uniform, he or she must remove the “U.S. Army” identification badge above the left pocket. That identification marker appears on the uniform Yetman is wearing in the YouTube video, he added.
Under Pennsylvania law it is a summary offense to wear a uniform, decoration insignia or other distinctive emblems of any branch of the armed forces of the United States for the purpose of obtaining aid, profit or while soliciting contributions or subscriptions. It is also a summary offense to, without authority, knowingly wear, exhibit, display or use for any purpose any military or veteran insignia.
Also, it is a third-degree misdemeanor in the state if a person, without authority, purchases, sells, offers for sale or accepts as a “pledge or pawn,” any medal, insignia or decoration granted for service in the armed forces.
On Wednesday, Bucks County’s chief of prosecutions, Matt Weintraub, said that in order to pursue the misdemeanor offense involving military decorations, authorities would need to prove that Yetman purchased the CIB badges in Pennsylvania and without authority.
I do think that his wearing of three Combat Infantryman Badges is especially troubling. Yetman would have had to be at least forty-five years old or more in order to qualify. He is also trying to pass himself off as being currently assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment. I don't know how many 300lb soldiers they have in that unit, so, you know. I doubt very much if Yetman would have even been questioned if he had been wearing no decorations or badges and the unit patch of the 28th Division. That's the hard truth about service in the military.

Yetman is attempting to perform his fraud by presenting himself as a mid-career NCO from a specialized Army unit on active duty. There are elite soldiers in every aspect of the Army and you can tell by how they carry themselves. There is a myth about Special Forces and other such units that says that everyone else in the Army is a widebody slapface who can't do anything right. That's inherently wrong.

Yetman stands out because he pretended to know the narrative of what a soldier would know and was caught red-handed in a phony story about himself right off the bat. In our midst is a failure or a young man who has no idea how to turn his life around and gain some self respect. The culture must be terrifying for such an individual, especially since we disregard people in uniform and treat soldiers so poorly.

News flash, asshole. This country treats Veterans poorly. No one blinks twice when neglected Veterans turn up all over the place. Why did he think pretending to be one would earn him anything beyond being mocked and humiliated in a chance encounter with someone who knew what a soldier is supposed to look like?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Great Molly Shannon

I get why Will Ferrell ended up with the career and the status that rightfully should have gone to Molly Shannon. I think there is a gender bias that exists on almost every level in comedy and there's simply no way the American people could have embraced a post-Saturday Night Live version of Ferrell without his buddy picture accomplishments.

But, darn it, Molly Shannon should be the biggest thing in the country right now. How is she relegated to supporting status and bit parts? What an injustice.

Of all of the characters created during the 1990s on Saturday Night Live, Molly Shannon and her partners in crime--Ana Gasteyer and Cheri Oteri--were responsible for at least half of the best ones by far. The fact that these three ladies have been eclipsed by men who were never anywhere nearly as talented or original tells you why American comedy is a fart joke away from obscurity.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

John McCain is an Excellent Judge of Who is Qualified

So, this happened today:
The Senate confirmed a producer of the soap opera “The Bold and The Beautiful” today to serve as ambassador to Hungary, and Sen. John McCain is not happy about it.
Prior to the vote, McCain, R-Ariz., went on a tirade about how Colleen Bradley Bell, a soap opera producer and bundler for President Obama’s campaigns, is “unqualified” to represent the United States as an ambassador to Hungary.
“We're about to vote on a totally unqualified individual to be ambassador to a nation which is very important to our national security interest,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “Her qualifications are as a producer of the television soap opera ‘The Bold and The Beautiful,’ contributed 800,000 [dollars] to Obama in the last election and bundled more than $2.1 million for President Obama's re-election effort.”
“I am not against political appointees…I understand how the game is played, but here we are, a nation [Hungary] that is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator getting in bed with Vladimir Putin and we're going to send the producer of ‘The Bold and The Beautiful’ as the ambassador,” McCain continued. “I urge my colleagues to put a stop to this foolishness. I urge a no vote.”
Regardless of McCain’s urging, the Senate confirmed Bell to the ambassador post with a vote of 52-42.
You would think that John McCain would find a way to refrain from lecturing his colleagues, such as they are, about anything regarding the choice of a person to fill a VERY IMPORTANT JOB. 

You would think that someone who works for the Senator would stand next to him and tap their foot three times and say, "let's not go there." 

You would think that a guy would clam up. 

You would think that a person who possesses some degree of self-awareness would go use the commode. 

You would think that a man with responsibilities would quietly vote "no" and then duck out through a door on the side of the room and fast-walk himself back to his office and pull down the shades and hum quietly to himself.

John McCain is now a living parody of a United States Senator.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Collapse of Bill Cosby

I sure hope Bill Cosby has been good with his money because when one in three people are turning in their tickets to your show for a refund, that's a pretty good indicator that your performing days are coming to a close.

Nobody Showed Up to Shop

I don't know about you, but this is what I experienced on Black Friday:
Even after doling out discounts on electronics and clothes, retailers struggled to entice shoppers to Black Friday sales events, putting pressure on the industry as it heads into the final weeks of the holiday season.
Spending tumbled an estimated 11 percent over the weekend from a year earlier, the Washington-basedNational Retail Federation saidyesterday. And more than 6 million shoppers who had been expected to hit stores never showed up.
The decision to open stores on Thursday remains the worst idea in the history of American retail. There should be a law that says that if you open on Thanksgiving Day in order to sell anything other than gas and emergency supplies for hobos, you should pay triple the tax on anything you earn. We need to give people a set number of days off in this country--eight per year sounds about right--and we need to back it with a guarantee.

This is called basic common sense and it allows people some human dignity. How is that a bad thing?

I knew it was going to be a bad year, retail-wise, when I was able to park in the first stall right in front of a Pier One store in central Maryland. There weren't any crazy people, running around with shopping bags and battle axes and there were deals a-plenty. Someone somewhere better get ready for a major adjustment as to how the retail industry organizes itself. This time next year, how many book stores do you think will have closed?

Counting Down to Insanity

I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but what the hell is this nonsense?
Today they may be sketching out their best attacks on the Democrats’ leading potential candidate for 2016, but once Dick Cheney, Paul Ryan, et al. had plenty of nice things to say.
For the better part of a quarter-century, Hillary Clinton has loomed over American politics as a hate figure for many on the right—and she seems poised to re-assert her dominant position in right-wing demonology in 2016. But there was a time, stretching roughly from her concession of the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama in 2008 to the Benghazi attack in 2012, when conservatives changed their tune on Clinton. In fact, plenty of Republicans even said nice things about her.
Ben Jacobs goes on to list some "nice" things that were said about Hillary Clinton. And, rest assured, none of these "nice" things will be repeated next year when the 2016 Presidential Election begins to gain some steam.

The Republican Party does not do nuance and it does not handle history very well. None of these people will remember what they actually said and they'll deny saying it if it costs them money or votes. They cannot be collated or reminded of the things they have actually done--that's for liberals, not conservatives. There is no accountability for past actions. Hypocrisy, for Republicans, is non-existent because no one, and I mean no one, acknowledges anything other than this morning's news cycle or the latest bit of oft-repeated conventional wisdom. They have hated Obama since day one. They will hate on Hillary Clinton like nothing you have ever seen before.

In short, these people are going to lose their mud. 

You see, hating Democrats is our new national pastime. If you thought the last eight years were crazy, get ready for an upside down ride on a red wagon straight to hell. They are going to demonize this woman for breathing air and having a resume. They will hate her like they hate everything in this world that isn't old, confused, Reaganistic and vaguely corporate. 

This country has a big bucket of crazy to eat and no one has any napkins.